Gaoth Dobhair (via Castlemilk) striker James McCarthy had a great game in the 3-2 defeat at a half-empty Aviva Stadium.
As did Ciaran Clark (via Ballyare) – and ever-ready Gaoth Dobhair star Aiden McGeady when he came on as a sub for the last 12 minutes.
World Cup semi-finalists Uruguay held off a second-half comeback by the Republic of Ireland for a 3-2 win in an a decent friendly.
Diego Lugano put the visitors ahead from close range after Diego Forlan’s free kick was not cleared. Shane Long headed Ireland level minutes later from a Liam Lawrence cross.
However, Ireland found themselves two down at half-time after well-taken goals from Forlan’s strike partners, Edinson Cavani and Abel Hernandez. Our defence was shockingly bad – and second rate at that stage.
Keith Fahey pulled one back with a penalty after our James McCarthy had been fouled when certain to score or create a scoring chance, but Ireland could not find the equaliser despite a late period of pressure led by Donegal’s McGeady.
Giovanni Trapattoni had done what he never does – experimented!This time with a 4-4-1-1 system and, at times in the first half, the World Cup semi-finalists gave his inexperienced line-up the run around as they struggled to adapt.
In fairness to the home side, Uruguay’s starting XI did contain nine of the players that started the World Cup semi-final against Holland last summer.
Trapattoni, who made eight changes from the side that beat Macedonia, will know that there is some work to be done on his back-up defence.
However, he will take some encouragement from his side’s attacking play. Long led the line well in the absence of Robbie Keane and Kevin Doyle, and was a constant threat.
Fahey was the first to try his luck with a swerving, dipping shot that Fernando Muslera was relieved to see bounce off his shoulder and over the bar.
However, Ireland’s problems were at the other end of the pitch and they found themselves behind on 12 minutes. Fahey’s attempted clearance of Forlan’s free-kick struck Cavani and dropped nicely for the unmarked Lugano to sweep home.
Ireland were level minutes later after a move started and finished by Long. The striker held off Lugano to feed Paul Green, who in turn picked out Liam Lawrence. Long was there to head the winger’s cross past Muslera for his sixth international goal.
Much was expected of McCarthy in his role behind Long, but Uruguay’s holding players, Diego Perez and Egidio Arevalo Rios, limited his space and influence.
Trapattoni will not be happy with the manner in which Cavani put Uruguay back in front. Maxi Pereira was allowed to run across the front of the Ireland defence and pick out Cavani, who curled his shot beyond Kieren Westwood.
The athletic Hernandez was proving to be a real handful for Ireland’s defence, both in his own movement and his links with strike partners Forlan and Cavani.
Uruguay are ranked 27 places above Ireland in the FIFA rankings and that difference in class was shown with their third goal.
Alvaro Pereira nipped in as Lawrence was caught on his heels and Uruguay broke away at speed. Hernandez galloped on to Pereira’s pass and finished coolly into the far corner.
Ireland needed a fast start to the second half and they got it. Long skipped past Lugano and squared for McCarthy, but he was upended by Martin Cacedes. Fahey made no mistake with the penalty.
Green then shot over the bar as Ireland pressed for an equaliser that had seemed unlikely at half-time. Keogh was next to test Muslera with a stinging shot that was parried straight to Long, although he could not find the composure to find the target.
Ireland switched to a more familiar 4-4-2 when Trapattoni introduced Darron Gibson and Keith Treacy for Fahey and McCarthy after the hour mark.
Treacy did not take long to get into the action as he forced Muslera to parry away his shot for a corner.
As the game swung from end-to end, Westwood kept the deficit at one with a fine double save, before Hernandez skied a shot after Forlan and Maxi Pereira had cut Ireland open on the right.
Keogh should have got Ireland level with ten minutes remaining, but he contrived to head the ball wide when it seemed easier to score. The Bristol City man seemed to take his eye of the ball after Muslera had fumbled Treacy’s free-kick.
Despite some late pressure from the home side, who brought on Aiden McGeady and Anthony Stokes, Uruguay held on for a victory that their first half performance merited.
Republic of Ireland: 1 Westwood; 2 Foley, 4 O’Dea, 5 Kelly, 3 Clark (15 Delaney 75); 7 Lawrence (13 McGeady 79), 6 Green, 8 Fahey (14 Gibson ’66), 9 Keogh (17 Stokes ’85), 10 McCarthy (12 Treacy ’66); 11 Long.
Subs not used: 16 Randolph (GK), 23 Forde (GK).
Uruguay: 1 Muslera, 2 Lugano, 3 Godin, 22 Cacedes; 16 M Pereira, 15 Perez (19 Scotti ’90), 17 Alvaro Rios (5 Gargano 64), A Pereira; 7 Cavani, 10 Forlan, 20 Hernandez (8 Eguren ’84).
Subs not used: 4 Fucile, 12 Castillo (GK), 13 Abreu, 14 Gonzalez, 18 Ramirez, 21 Fernandez.
Referee: Said Ennjimi